On the night before I boarded a plane with a one-way ticket to Mexico, I was out to eat with my family, and my sister asked me if I was nervous.
“Nope,” I said, stuffing my face with North Carolina barbecue.
“But — do you have butterflies?” she pressed.
“I actually don’t,” I said.
I was being honest. On the eve of the biggest decision of my life, my greatest adventure, my greatest challenge, I was certain: I was going to kick ass.
I had no doubts. Traveling like this, on my own with no itinerary, was what I had always wanted to do. It was what I was meant to do.
Two weeks into my nomad existence, I can hardly write those sentences without tearing up. Yep, that’s right. I’m close to crying right now. I’ve been crying a lot.
If you follow me on social media, you might be furrowing your brow at this moment, confused.
But, perhaps you’re thinking, I’ve been watching what you’re doing and it’s awesome. I’ve seen you eating tacos and drinking mezcal and walking beautiful streets and strolling through vibrant markets. You look like you’re having the time of your life.
Well yeah, I agree with most of that. What I’m doing *is* awesome. I’m surrounded by incredible beauty, astounding culture, amazing food. I am doing what I always wanted to do. I should be having the time of my life. When I tell people about what I’m doing, they usually tell me I’m “brave.” I’m “inspiring.” That my decision is “admirable.”
And yet, it’s hard. It’s lonely. It’s sad. I’d be lying if I said the urge to book a one-way flight back to the United States, hasn’t passed, begrudgingly, through my mind.
Those feelings, as intensely as I’ve felt them, have taken me off guard. Firstly, I’ve traveled solo a lot, for more time that I’ve yet been gone for, and I never experienced this particular set of emotions. I’m a person who loves to be alone. I’m a person who gravitates toward personal challenges. I’m a person who lives to explore.
But this journey is different for several reasons:
- My budget is tighter than any I’ve ever attempted to live in. Basic comforts that I once took for granted are now no longer available.
- I feel immense pressure because my income is now tied to my travels, because so many people are supporting me, emotionally and financially (through Patreon and a sponsorship) based on this journey, and because they expect me to be inspired and inspiring.
- I’m not coming home. Subconsciously, I think my mind believes that my challenges and discomfort don’t have an end date, that my loneliness will only grow.
I’m craving routine and normalcy more desperately than I ever have. I never know where my next laundry will be done, where my next toiletries will be purchased, where my next meal will be eaten. I don’t have a place to make food. I don’t have a normal work space or schedule. I don’t have a PLAN. My life, everything I know, has been flipped upside down.
I feel like an untethered astronaut, hurling through space, uncontrolled.
And experiencing all of this, this way, has left me feeling ashamed.
So much of what I’ve done and seen should be my lasting impressions of this journey so far, not the pit I feel when I wake up and when I go to bed. Mexico City and Oaxaca (I promise I will record more about both cities, soon) are beautiful. They’re exhilarating. They’re inspiring.
And I’m still struggling. A lot.
The girl who sat at a barbecue restaurant in North Carolina two weeks ago, shunning the idea of butterflies, wouldn’t believe it. But then, I already know so much more than her.
I’m holding tight to the idea that each day will get better, that as I discover ways to insert structure into an unstructured existence, that my anxiety will diminish, that somewhere along the way, I will indeed kick ass.
Until then, I’ll try to appreciate these feelings, too.
Though the emotions have been more extreme than I anticipated, this trip was meant to be as much about the struggles as the victories.
So I’ll lean in. I’ll breathe. I’ll put one foot in front of the other. The days will pass, and I hope, this feeling will too.